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A recent Illinois First District Appellate Court decision, Better Government Association v. The City of Chicago Office of Mayor and the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, 2020 IL App. (1st) 190038 (August 5, 2020), addresses whether communications on a public official’s personal device are considered public records for the purposes of FOIA. In Better Government Association v. The City of Chicago Office of Mayor and the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, the Appellate Court found that communications on a public official’s personal device could be public records for the purposes of FOIA and subject to disclosure under FOIA even if those communications were not made during a public meeting. Please note that the First District Appellate Court’s decision in Better Government Association v. City of Chicago is much broader than the Fourth District Appellate Court’s opinion in City of Champaign v. Madigan with regards to the release of communications on public officials’ personal devices. In the City of Champaign v. Madigan, the Fourth District Appellate Court found that communications sent on personal devices will only be considered public records in limited circumstances (e.g. if they are sent or received during a public meeting).

In sum, the First District Appellate Court’s decision in Better Government Association v. City of Chicago will apply to public bodies in Cook County while the Fourth District Appellate Court’s decision in Champaign v. Madigan which takes a more limited view on what communications are subject to FOIA when they are sent or received on a public official’s personal device/account is applicable to public bodies in Central Illinois. If you have any questions regarding this new case, please contact a Tressler attorney.

For more information about this article, contact Tressler attorney Christine Walczak at cwalczak@tresslerllp.com.